Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells]. Yoichiro HIRASE.
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].
Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].

“A Very Beautiful Book of Shells”–Hillier

Kai senshu [trans.: A Thousand Shells].

Eighty fine double-page hand-colored woodcut plates. Four vols. 8vo in orihon format, orig. silk over boards, printed title labels on upper covers (the first label discolored). Kyoto: Unsodo, 1914-15-15-22.

First edition of this “very beautiful book of shells” (Hillier), with hand-colored woodcuts of 400 specimens. Hirase (1859-1925), was a scholar, collector, and dealer in shells in Kyoto. He published a short-lived journal called “The Conchological Magazine” and in 1913 opened the first museum devoted to shells in Japan which, according to Dance, was also “probably the first of its kind in the world” (p. 221). Hirase had an international reputation and sold or exchanged shells with private collectors and museums in Europe and the United States.

“Hirase was chiefly interested in the scientific aspects of conchology, but the Japanese artistic tradition seems to have pervaded his activities as well. It was certainly evident in the layout and contents of…his remarkable book Kai sen shu, one thousand kinds of shells existing in Japan. Four silk-bound volumes of this unique conchological publication were issued, each containing many illustrations produced from woodcuts and coloured by hand in traditional Japanese style. Each volume consists of a single long sheet folded many times concertina-fashion which, when opened out, bears the illustrations on one side only. In his preface Hirase says that the work was intended ‘not wholly for the benefit of scientific studies, but rather for the purpose of reference for artists and technologists’. His approach to the study of molluscs was certainly novel and sometimes unscientific but, almost single-handed, he placed his country on the conchological map.”–Dance, Shell Collecting, p. 222.

Each volume has an index in English and Japanese.

A really fine and handsome set in very fresh condition.

❧ Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 985–(with color reproduction)–“Kai Senshu merits direct comparison with the finest of western colour reproduction of shells: but the Japanese prints, as Hirase goes out of his way to emphasize, are colour woodcuts.”.

Price: $7,500.00

Item ID: 6327

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